Afterlife, Ancient Folklore, Angel, Angelic, Azreal, Death, Exodus, Folklore, Good, Heaven, Hebrew Folklore, Hell, Islamic Folklore, Jewish Folklore, Medieval Folklore, OGL, Old Testament, Seven Heavens, Soul
The Angel of Death is the first of a series detailing the Choirs of Angels. I’ve drawn primarily from a combination of European, Jewish, and Middle Eastern legends and folklore to create them. Each Angel embodies a different approach to Goodness, from the hard-nosed Warrior Angels to the comforting Angels of Mercy. The Angel of Death embodies the fierce power of Divine Judgment, and is definitely not to be trifled with. Please note: nothing here should be considered as a commentary of any kind on anyone’s faith. When folklore and legend seem to be at variance with theology, I’ve gone with folklore. When folkloric sources disagree, I’ve tried to use the ideas that led to the most interesting results (IMHO). I’ve also taken some small artistic liberties where it seemed appropriate, or the source material is lacking in details. The point is to enable CKs to depict the kind of angelic beings actually encountered in legend. The Angels are presented merely as interesting additions to a fun game, not as endorsements of any particular religious point of view.
ANGEL OF DEATH
NO. ENCOUNTERED: 1
SIZE: Large (10′ Tall)
HD: 13 (d8)
MOVE: 60′, 120′ (fly)
ATTACKS: 2 Long Knife (1d6+3, & Bitter Gall of Death), or 2 Great Scimitar (1d10+3 & Bitter Gall of Death), 1 Cord of Strangulation (2 points Constitution Damage per round)
SPECIAL: Magic Weapons To Hit, Deepvision, Electricity Resistance (Full), Immune to Poison and Emotion-affecting Magic, Total Perception, Bitter Gall of Death, Cord of Strangulation, Scroll of Life, Virtue of Kindness, Cannot Harm The Kind-hearted, Covenant of Kindness, Enter Unhallowed Ground, Spell Resistance 15, Spell-like Abilities
ALIGNMENT: Lawful Good
The Angels of Death are the Executioners of Heaven’s Judgment upon mortals. They exist to claim the souls of the benevolent for Heaven, and to inflict the righteous punishment of death on the irredeemably wicked. They perform the latter task quickly and efficiently, despite their Good Alignment. The Angels of Death are happy to relieve their fellow Angels of such a horrible duty, and take satisfaction both from obeying the Will of Heaven and sure knowledge that they have protected innocent people from Evil.
An Angel of Death in its natural form is an androgynous being with chalk white skin and deep black hair. A nimbus of white light surrounds the Angel’s head, making it difficult to see the being’s face directly. The Angel’s body is covered with human-like eyes, of every possible shade and hue. Attached to the back are glossy black wings that seem to be constantly moving, even when the Angels is at rest on the ground. The motion of these wings is such that it is impossible to tell whether they are a single pair of wings moving at great speed, or many pairs of wings moving in an intricate pattern. The Angel carries a long, curved knife from which droplets of greenish liquid seem to drop and disappear before they reach the ground. In the being’s other hand is what appears to be an ancient scroll. Around the waist is a loosely tied black cord. When the being speaks the sound is like a chorus of voices, and anyone able to see inside the Angel’s mouth will perceive a multitude of tongues. An Angel of Death seldom appears in its natural form, however, preferring to either remain Invisible or else take the form of some enticing or attractive figure. They will also sometimes appear as ravens, as a rolling cloud, or may even assume a terrifying form (such as that of winged skeleton) when they are forced to parlay with Devils.
Of all the Angels, only the Angels of Death have direct peaceful dealings with the Devils of Hell and the Demons of the Outer Darkness. Sages speculate that there is a kinship between the Angels of Death and the Accuser Devils, proposing that the Accuser Devils were once Angels of Death who lost the Virtue of Kindness that buoyed them to heaven, and became weighed down by the Vice of Envy. Perhaps it is for that reason that the Angels of Death consider Accuser Devils to be their particular opponents. Just as Accuser Devils will enter Heaven in an attempt to prosecute the righteous, Angels of Death will descend to Hell to rescue souls the Devils have unfairly damned. Some say that as a result of these harrowing expeditions that the Angels of Death have come to certain arrangements with Hell, and will even direct the Devils to unrighteous souls who are deserving of torment.
Despite their duties as slayers, Angels of Death are actually among the kindest and most unselfish beings in Creation. They take no happiness from causing death, but rather from the happiness of the Blessed Souls in Heaven and the joy of mortals relieved of the oppression of Evil men. The Angels of Death do not usually enter the Gardens of Heaven, usually dwelling in the area just outside the Gates of Pearl. Some sages say that in their kindness the Angels of Death do not wish to remind Blessed Souls of death and mortality, but want them to be able to enjoy the delights of Paradise without care. Others say that they are actually prohibited from entering Heaven by the Lord of Hosts himself, for the same reason. Certain savants speculate that on the Final Day, when death is no more, the Angels of Death will also be relieved of their terrible duty and be able to rest in Heaven also.
Naturally, an Angel of Death will attack and destroy any Undead encountered.
Combat: An Angel of Death never attacks randomly, but only as part of its mission. If one is foolishly attacked, Evil acts are committed in its presence, or any attempt is made to physically prevent the Angel from discharging its duty, then it becomes an awesome and implacable foe. The long knife that each carries is equal to a +3 short sword and can be transformed at will into a great scimitar. The Angel can strike with either form of the weapon twice in a round. Additionally, the Angel can cause the cord from its waist to fly around the neck of Evil beings, strangling them without the need for any further direction. Worst of all for its opponents are the Angel’s spell-like abilities. Angels of Death can attack unseen using Improved Invisibility, and will usually only show themselves if forced to by magic. A typical combat tactic is to Hold opponents motionless and thereafter slay them, either with a Finger of Death or by dropping the Bitter Gall of Death into their mouths.
Once an Angel of Death is committed to a battle, it will ignore any attempt to bargain. In the creature’s eyes, Good-Aligned opponents will simply enjoy Heaven if they are slain while opposing the Angel for righteous reasons, while the souls of other opponents will be flung to just punishment. There are tales of Angels of Death slaughtering entire generations of wicked nations, creeping methodically from house to house to smite those who have been judged irredeemable by the Lord of Hosts.
Total Perception: Regardless of an Angel of Death’s current form, it enjoys constant True Seeing in all directions at once. Naturally, it is impossible to surprise the Angel.
Bitter Gall of Death: The blade carried by an Angel of Death drips a bitter, greenish liquid. Anyone struck by the Angel’s blade (whether it is in knife or scimitar form) in combat receives a Charisma Saving Throw versus magical Death Attack. Failure means the character dies instantly. Anyone who tastes the Bitter Gall of Death by oral ingestion is automatically slain, without any Saving Throw and instantly bypassing any magical protections.
Cord of Strangulation: Each Angel of Death carries a long black cord that is knotted at either end. This Cord of Strangulation is reserved for the execution of Evil-aligned opponents. This cord will fly through the air and attack independently, striking as a 13 HD creature. A successful attack deals 2 points of Con Damage, plus an equal amount per round unless the cord is pried or cut off. Prying off the cord require a Strength check with a Challenge Level of 13. To cut the cord off requires inflicting 30 points of damage against AC 20. If the Cord is cut in two, the Angel of Death loses the use of it until he acquires another one by revisiting Heaven. If the Angel is currently Invisible, the Cord of Strangulation is Invisible as well, even if it is not held by the Angel.
Scroll of Life: Every Angel of Death carries with it a scroll that contains the names of everyone the Angel will encounter in their journey away from the Gates of Heaven, indicates whether they are marked for death, and reports the current destination of that person’s soul. Although the scroll appears to be of no great length before it is read, it will unroll to far larger than initially looks possible. Characters who somehow manage to look at the scroll will be able to find their own names, of course, as well as an indication as to where their soul will reside after death.
Virtue of Kindness: Angels of Death possess the Virtue of Kindness. When the Angel is in its true form the Virtue is visible as the halo, or nimbus of light, around the head. Such is the power of their Virtue that the mere presence of an Angel of Death prevents any Accuser Devils within 300 feet from using their Shame Ability. Likewise, nobody within that area will be able to tell or write slanderous lies, spread gossip, or communicate hurtful insults of any kind. Those who try will find that no sound comes from their mouths, and if they try to write such things the instruments will always break, or the papers shred.
Cannot Harm The Kind-hearted: An Angel of Death is completely unable to harm anyone who has committed an act of selfless kindness in the previous 24 hour period. Even the Bitter Gall of Death will have no effect on such people, and the Angel will not attack or molest them in any way.
Covenant of Kindness: Angels of Death are quite willing to enter into Covenants with individuals. In return for the Angel performing some service, or not taking a particular soul, a petitioner will be put under a Geas to perform selfless acts that help strangers achieve happiness. The nature and number of the acts will vary by the service requested, but will always be very inconvenient to perform, and may involve depleting any excess resources or treasure possessed. Note that an Angel of Death cannot be selfishly dealt with, and anyone who attempts to make the Angel do anything unrighteous will be subject to the swift and terrible judgment of Heaven.
Enter Unhallowed Ground: An Angel of Death is undeterred by Unhallowed Ground, and can freely ignore any evil Clerical spell designed to exclude them from a location. They can be affected by Arcane spells which protect subjects or areas from spirits, however. A Protection From Good spell used by Wizard will keep an Angel of Death out, but not the same effect created by an evil Cleric. Angels of Death can freely enter Hell or the Outer Darkness, and sometimes do so in order to rescue souls.
Spell-Like Abilities: One per round, at will: Detect Thoughts; Dream; Fear; Finger of Death; Hold Person, Animal, or Monster; Scrying. In common with all Angels, an Angel of Death can also use Improved Invisibility, Know Alignment, create Light, Polymorph Self, perform feats of Prestidigitation, and Teleport Without Error, all at will. They can roam the Ethereal and Astral planes; speak, write and and understand all forms of communication; and can see perfectly regardless of illumination. Once a day an Angel of Death can Summon another of its kind, a Warrior Angel, or 3 Guardian Angels (none of which will be able to Summon more Angels). At the CK’s discretion, an Angel of Death may even be able to Summon 3 Tormentor Devils, who will be allowed to claim the souls of the Angel’s Evil opponents.
Immune To Electricity: Like all Angels, an Angel of Death cannot be harmed by Lightning or Electricity.